How do you prevent dementia person from intruding into personal space (bathroom, bedroom)? - AgingCare.com

How do you prevent dementia person from intruding into personal space (bathroom, bedroom)?

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My mother in law is in the beginning stages of Dementia and is also Schizophrenic ( takes meds for it) . She is still able to leave in a home behind our house but she walks in our home without knocking and is here more than there. I know she wants company but we need privacy. She also walks through the house into bathrooms and bedrooms. Any tips or suggestions?

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How very sad that this woman has lived locked in the prison of her mental illness all these years. I am glad that she has a medication that helps now (according to her son's memory of her previous behavior.)

Alzheimer's includes wandering; most other kinds of dementia don't. So there is something like a 50-50 chance she will wander. That is enough of a risk to start exploring ways to deal with it, but keep in mind it might never happen. You are right (according to what I've read) that persons with Alzheimer's dementia will often obey signs saying "Stop" or "Do not enter" or "Ring bell ONLY ONCE." I tried that with my husband, who had a different kind of dementia. Ha! He'd see the sign. He knew what it meant. He didn't think it meant him, or he didn't care if it did. Signs were useless for us, but it is worth a try.

If she went to a day health program ("day care" instead of "senior center") she would have a different table to sit silently at for a few hours a week. If the staff is good and understands her issues, this could work out OK. If something they are doing captures her interest, so much the better, but it could be worthwhile just to be among different people for a while.

If you can give this poor woman some contentment in her late years that will be quite an accomplishment. Do pay attention to your own needs and limits, too. Don't drive yourself crazy to deal with her mental illness.
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I will be doing some research on the GPS locators. Thanks Maggie you insight is appreciated.
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If you don't want to lock her out of your home, then get a lock for your bedroom door and keep it locked...or locked when you're in there. When you're in the bathroom, lock the door.

I suppose you've thought of the possibility that, if she can't get into your home, she'll wander the neighborhood?

The interior doors are easy to solve; locking her out completely has its risks. If she's lost her sense of boundaries, which it sounds as if she has, I'm very surprised she can live alone . . . probably only because you live so close. Better get a GPS locator bracelet for the little lady. ;)

You are an angel to watch over her, by the way.
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Thank you so much for all the helpful advice. She lives in the house trailer right behind our house. I am the caregiver right now. She is at the stage where I have to giver her meds ( she swears she has already taken them), wash her cloths and I fix her dinner every night. She still can fix sandwiches or salads but she is not able to fix complete dinners. I take her to get her hair fixed every other week and she does the typical washcloth and sink for a bath. Her Schizophrenia has been an issue for more than 50 years so she has no history for me to draw information or likes, dislikes from. It also prevents me from taking her to senior centers for interactions. She does not have conversations with me when she comes over. She will just sit and stare or drink a cup of coffee. My husband said she has always been like that. She will go home if I re direct her but us right back at the house an hour later. Locks work but she will bang on the door until it is answered and she will try to push right pass me. When I told her I need my personal time and space, she asked why. I am wondering if I hung a sign on the front door if she would comprehend. Alzheimer's would stop and read things all the time. I have worked with Alzheimer's for several years. They were a little further along than my mother in law and Alzheimer's have a past that they like to revert back too. My mother in law never drove, has not interest in sewing, gardening, reading drawing. I am at a loss on how to keep her occupied. She is not at the stage for wandering yet. It might not be far off but for now I can't get her to walk around the yard.The ankle/wrist bracelets are a good option for the future. We are on 40 acres. My husband thinks she is doing great. This is mainly because she was not on any medication for her Schizophrenia until her husband died. Back then they tried shock treatments. His dad couldn't handle seeing her go through it so he never took her for treatments. My husband grew up in a house on 18 acres with a Schizophrenic mom who never left home.
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I would want an alarm in my house that beeps when she leaves her house. Very soon she will wander away and get lost. Look at Florida Silver Alert for information on ankle/wrist bracelets in your area.
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She is still able to live in her home. That is good. It may not last long. What then? What is the arrangement for meals now? Are you helping her with her pills? What about showering? Who washes her laundry? I'm trying to get a sense of how much caregiving is going on now.

I think you will need barriers other than setting boundaries and reasoning with her. She may understand perfectly in a lucid moment, and fully agree about privacy, but ten minutes later completely forget that. Locks or buzzers are kinder -- they don't expect her to behave in ways she can't manage.

Giving her something else to do, such as attend a day program a few hours a week, can give you some relief, too.
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Reasoning may not work, she may even understand and quickly forget. Locks will keep her out, but she will knock, perhaps pound. Can ypu redirect her back home, or will she insist or return in a few minutes. I think you need locks and boundaries, the latter being much more difficult. Can you send her to activities to keep her away and busy a few hours a day?
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You say she is in the beginning stages of dementia. Is she still able to retain information? If so, have you explained to her that walking into your house and roaming around is rude and disrespectful? Is she able to observe boundaries?

One thing you could do is lock the door she enters from. This will force her to have to knock and then you can tell her if it's a good time for her to visit or not.

When she's in your house will a closed door prevent her from going into a room? When she wanders into someone's bedroom do you redirect her and tell her that she's not allowed to invade someone's privacy?

This all depends upon how the dementia has affected her so far. You said she also has schizophrenia but since she's your mother in law I'm assuming that she's been able to have meaningful relationships in the past and can follow social cues. Is the dementia more of a barrier than the mental illness?

I've read on this site about elderly parents who invade others bedrooms and don't have a sense of boundaries and some of the suggestions were about putting locks on the top of the door where they can't be reached. A slide bolt. Drastic, sure. But I value my privacy as much as anyone and if someone repeatedly violated it I wouldn't hesitate to put a lock on the outside of my door.

How does your husband handle this?
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SandraG, is there an open door policy, meaning parent(s), sibling(s), children can walk into the house at any time.... be it your house, or their house, or your mother-in-law's house? I know some families have that. Was your mother-in-law always like that? If so, that would be a hard habit for her to break.... let her come inside on a whim, but if you are in the bathroom lock the door, same with the bedroom.

Or put a door buzzer mat just inside the entrance that she always uses, that way you know that someone came into the house.
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